Thursday, May 31, 2012

Obama Has Advantage on Military

President Obama continues to stay in alignment with public opinion on most military and defense issues.  He inoculated himself from criticism from the right with his aggressive drone strategy and 2009 surge into Afghanistan.  And, the 2011 assassination of Osama bin Laden and hits against Al Qaeda leadership have served as a major booster shot for his military bona fides.

On the other hand, his overseeing the Iraq transition to local rule and security and his 2014 drawdown of Afghanistan troops corresponds to the American public and especially the left’s war weariness and desire for a domestic focus.

Recent polls highlight that a decade after 9/11, terrorism has receded to a secondary topic and support for foreign adventures is mostly gone as headlines from stories of recent polls confirm:

  • Post/ABC News poll shows drop in Republican support for Afghan War (4-11-12)
  • Most swing voters favor Afghan troop withdrawal (4-18-12) (Pew Research Center)

Voters are still worried about Iran’s nuclear ambition and Syria’s humanitarian crisis, but not enough to support on-the-ground action.

It is not clear if the cuts in military spending that are coming will affect the public opinion of military families and their communities.  No polls have been reported as yet.  Romney is winning veterans by 24 points, but the Republican nominee usually leads with vets.

“‘He has a very good foreign policy rating, much better than his domestic policy rating,’ said Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli.  ‘For all the criticism of his being too international and not a believer in American exceptionalism, he got Osama, he backed the Afghan surge, and he engineered these withdrawals.’
The administration’s proposed deep cuts in defense spending have yet to register with the electorate at large, said Mr. Ciruli.
‘If that’s playing locally, I’m not hearing it,’ said Mr. Ciruli.  ‘The military is not playing – the economy is playing.’”  (Washington Times, May 23, 2012)

The Washington Times:  Obama makes case for defense cuts
The Washington Post:  Post-ABC News poll shows drop in Republican support for Afghan war
Gallup:  Veterans give Romney big lead over Obama
Pew Research Center:  Most swing voters favor Afghan troop withdrawal

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nate Silver Rates Senate Races

Nate Silver, the political analyst for the New York Times, believes control of the U.S. Senate is a toss up, with Democrats’ chances improving since early 2012.

Silver rates four seats in the West as competitive or toss-ups:  Montana, which is held by a Democratic incumbent (Tester), and Nevada, held by a Republican (Heller), are the toss-ups.  He believes New Mexico, which leans Democrat, and Arizona, which leans Republican, are competitive.  Both are open seats.

The only other seat even slightly competitive in Silver’s view is an open seat in Washington, which he labels likely Democratic.

California, Utah and Wyoming incumbents are rated safe.

Silver and I agree (see blog of May 15).  As he points out, the presidential race in the respective states could make a difference.  A Mitt Romney strong showing in Montana or Nevada will likely help the Republican Senate candidates, as would a strong Barack Obama win in Nevada or New Mexico help the Democrats.

The Buzz:  November contests throughout the West: Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington 
New York Times blog – FiveThirtyEight:  Democrats’ odds of retaining Senate improve
The Buzz:  Republican Party still purging its best establishment candidates

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

June 5: Romney Wins Nomination and Heads to Convention

As Mitt Romney wins his nomination with Texas’ 155 delegates, the Republican attacks have ended, the party is beginning to unify, the general election has started and the race with Barack Obama has closed.  Next, Romney picks a vice president and both parties stage their conventions.

Due to Obama making gay marriage a high-profile issue, the Democrats are dealing with a management problem at their national convention.  Labor, gay rights and much of the party’s democratic left wing is angry about the location.  Obama was hoping the convention would, like Colorado’s in 2008, help put North Carolina’s electoral votes (15) in his column (he won it by .04%, or 14,000, in 2008).

Republicans with a Republican governor and potential vice president selection as U.S. Senator look more settled into Tampa.  However, the era of mass demonstrations, guerrilla occupation and publicity seeking stunts appear to be upon us.  Both conventions should brace for the latest version of “Recreate ’68.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hickenlooper Conflict With Obama?

Does Governor Hickenlooper have reservations supporting President Obama with his harsh anti-free market, anti-wealth creation rhetoric?  This may be a problem for Hickenlooper, who used the word “entrepreneurial” a dozen times in his State of the State speech.

There is a growing rift between the business, entrepreneurial wing of the Democratic Party and the campaign’s populist themes, especially the harsh anti-business advertising (Bain ads).  Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is the latest and most visible member of the Party’s reform and centrist wing to raise objections to the campaign’s strategy.

Hickenlooper, as a centrist Democrat, has tried mightily to find consensus positions with Republicans.  He often points out that numerous bills, including for economic development and business, passed with super majorities.

Obama needs Hickenlooper.  The Governor’s approval rating in the metro area is 22 percentage points higher than Obama’s.  The metro area is 55 percent of the state’s voters and contains the swing suburbs needed for a statewide victory.

Not surprising, fundraising for the Obama campaign is down.  It seems a miracle Obama can still pick up $40,000 checks from the business community as he did last Wednesday.

Hickenlooper has endorsed the President.  Has he expressed concern about the campaign’s tone?  Will he campaign for Obama?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Race Tightens

The New York Times/CBS May 14 poll had Mitt Romney up three points.  A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll puts President Obama ahead by four points (5-20-12).  The main conclusion is that the race has tightened.

In the eight polls being carried in the national polling average on May 23, Obama leads in five and Romney leads in two, with one tie.  The current average has Obama ahead by two, but it was tied as recently as May 8, and has closed from a spread of 5 to 6 points in February and March.

Some factors that have tightened the race:
  • With his nomination in sight (more than 1,144 needed on or before the June 5 primaries), Romney’s Republican and conservative support is consolidating.  Plus, there are no Republican ads or candidates criticizing him.
Obama is on the attack with ads to make up for drop off in Republican anti-Romney ads.
  • The economy remains in a very slow recovery, with bad signals from Europe.  A recession there could cause negative third-quarter growth here and a collapse of support for Obama’s re-election.
Obama and Romney are tied 47 percent each on who’s best to fix the economy.  (Washington Post/NBC poll)
Obama is now lobbying for stimulus and not austerity in Europe.
  • Obama’s high-profile gay marriage endorsement raised a social issue with little public opinion upside and considerable controversy.  Liberal activists cheered, but it reinforces that he is more liberal than the electorate he wants to lead.
The timing and reports that Obama needed to encourage fundraising from George Clooney’s Hollywood contributors has led to cynicism about the timing of his endorsement.
  • Romney is meeting or exceeding Obama’s fundraising totals, which is neutralizing what was a big Democratic advantage over John McCain in 2008.
Obama’s massive ground game has a financial burn rate that may not be sustainable.  This year’s level of volunteerism is not equal to 2008, and will not make up for cut backs caused by money shortages.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Congressional Republicans Ahead

If President Obama wins re-election, as of today, another divided government is likely.  Democrats are playing serious defense in congressional races, with the generic test showing them behind by 2 points.  Historically, to win seats they must be ahead by 4 to 6 points due to lagging behind Republicans in final turnout.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her Democrats want to take back the House, but beyond massive fundraising, including a $2 million plus campaign contribution in Colorado media for the 3rd and 6th congressional district candidates, they haven’t been able to shift the overall direction of public opinion.

Democrats must win twenty-five seats from their base of 193 (they have 3 vacancies) – a mighty task in any year, but highly unlikely without a national trend helping.  Democrats are hoping that money, candidate recruitment and redistricting will make up for the lack of momentum.

Geographically, Democrats’ base in the Northeast grows, but the area has lost representatives, mostly to the overwhelmingly Republican South.  The West has a slight Democratic advantage due to the Pacific states.

American voters are disappointed in their federal government (only 15% approve of Congress) and they are doubtful this election will provide much new direction.  Hence, like the presidential race, neither party is gaining much advantage, and in a dead heat, Republicans hold their majority.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coffman Off Message

Mike Coffman, who has a good image for a U.S. Congressman, a generally poorly rated group, tripped up with some off-the-cuff comments in the outlands of his district.

He hit a birther note and then said with considerable sincerity in his voice that President Obama “in his heart, he’s not an American.”

The Congressman, who represents Arapahoe County, which went for Obama in 2008 as did his newly constructed district, rapidly apologized.
“9NEWS Political Analyst Floyd Ciruli, a pollster, says Coffman’s comment is a blow to his moderate image.
‘Radical statements about the president, where his heart is, whether he’s an American, are going to be tremendously controversial,’ Ciruli said. 
Coffman’s 6th Congressional District has been redrawn to include fewer Republicans, a point Coffman acknowledged at the May 12 fundraiser. 
‘It is going to be a very challenging race,’ Coffman is heard saying.  ‘I really need your help.’
Ciruli says Coffman’s line may have gone over well in “red” Elbert County, but he’ll need to do well with moderate voters in ‘purple” Arapahoe County. 
‘That may have gotten a hand out there but in the Denver metro area, those are very extreme comments,’ Ciruli said.  ‘I think they will probably give the Democrats a little fodder for some ads.’” 
The state’s liberal news critics were upset by the reference Coffman has a moderate image.  The argument for that statement is as follows:
  1. By recent Colorado congressional standards, he’s no Lamborn, Musgrave or Tancredo (who he replaced).
  2. He has won statewide office for jobs that are largely administrative:  State Treasurer and Secretary of the State; hence, showing statewide appeal and avoiding ideological controversy.
  3. He won his 2008 primary as the slightly less conservative candidate against former Senator Bill Armstrong’s son Wil and very conservative State Senator Ted Harvey.
  4. He did not run as a Tea Party candidate in 2010 when the movement took over the Colorado Republican Party and still has significant influence, testified by the Santorum win in the February 7 Republican presidential caucus.
  5. He has advanced military spending reductions in spite of having been an active duty officer and highly pro military.
In a very conservative House and very conservative Colorado delegation, Coffman has had an image being conservative, but not extreme.

However, these latest comments were a mistake he quickly acknowledged and tried to get out from under.  Expect to see bumper stickers along the lines of the Bennet vs. Buck fight, which Bennet won by 0.5 percent in the new 6th CD – Too Extreme for Colorado.

See 9NEWS:  Rep. Mike Coffman:  Obama in his heart “not an American”
Denver Post’s The Spot:  Coffman says Obama “not an American”
Ciruli blog:  Miklosi vs. Coffman: The closest seat in the country
Ciruli blog:  Money in congressional races – only one factor
Denver Post:  Hubbard: Mike Coffman’s political un-exceptionalism

Friday, May 18, 2012

Framing Gay Rights – It’s a Battle

There is a high-level fight going on to frame what just happened in the Colorado Legislature over gay marriage rights.

Republicans are advertising on KOA that “Governor Hickenlooper and the Democrats” special session is wasting $25,000 a day on gay marriage while ignoring jobs and the economy.  And, the Democrats are attacking House Speaker Frank McNulty as using raw power and undemocratic procedures to thwart the will of a majority of the House, and according to polls, the preference of the public.

Both sides expect the issue to be important in a tough November legislative election as Republicans defend their one-vote majority.  It’s not clear gay rights will be on voters’ minds, but clearly it will be used with some constituencies and in some close races.  More importantly, it will add a lot of money to the process.  A host of Republican and Democratic big money players showed up to support gay rights.

Although gay marriage rights has made considerable progress in public opinion, a defeat with Colorado voters in 2006 is the primary reason it will be at least another year – 7 since the defeat – before civil unions will pass the legislature.  Also in 2006, Colorado voters, by a 10 point margin, passed a constitutional ban on legal gay marriage (55% to 45%), joining what is now 30 states with bans.

Because of the 2006 loss, Democrats did not attempt to pass a civil unions bill in the 2007 to 2010 sessions when they controlled both houses of the legislature and the governorship.

Democrats started their recent effort when polls showed public opinion shifting.  Their first time out in 2011, Democrats lost in the House Judiciary Committee.  A recent PPP (robo) poll claims 62 percent of the public favors it, and clearly some Republicans are in that group (31% in the poll and at least 3 Republican legislators plus major campaign contributors).

Although they made progress in 2012, with the help of Republican leaders being blindsided by rebellious members, the 2006 vote was still a major factor as it was cited as the main reason Republicans voted against civil unions.

Denver PostColorado House speaker set trend aside in opposing civil unions
Public Policy Polling:  Coloradans support gay marriage
9NEWS:  Special session ends without passage of key bills

Continuous Instability in Europe – The Outs Are In

On Sunday, May 6, one of the great nations of Europe and the developed world tossed out its right-center government for a left-center.  This was less an adoption of a watered down socialism as a rejection of whoever was in power during the greatest economic crisis since WWII.

Greece, with the most high-profile and longest running economic downturn, is into a second wave of political crises, having first shifted in 2011 from a right of center to left of center unity government.  In the latest round of elections, fringe left and right parties were enlarged to the detriment of the center parties, who have been trying to manage the crises and implement austerity measure.  Gridlock is the result and new elections will be held.

As the recession settles in and austerity is blamed, instability will increase.  Greece is heading toward default.  Will that pull back other electorates from the abyss or is the Euro zone unraveling?

What is the impact on the American recovery and on the American presidential election?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Colorado Civil Unions Makes National Coverage

Governor John Hickenlooper, who made civil unions a top legislative priority, did not sign a bill, but received national attention when the legislation was killed at the end of Colorado Legislative session on May 9.

With President Obama declaring his support for gay marriage, the issue rocketed to the top of national news coverage.  But, Obama’s endorsement also caused the issue to become more polarized.

Hickenlooper made CNN on Sunday morning to become the reasonable face of the Democratic Party on the issue.  Both Hickenlooper and the national party want to avoid appearing out of the mainstream or solely focused on the issue.  When Hickenlooper offered his call for the special legislative session, he put water at the top.  And, on CNN, he prominently mentioned pro business (jobs) items on the agenda.

While there is public support for gay rights, and specifically civil unions, it is a low priority for people.  Democrats are anxious to avoid the problem that damaged Republicans in 2004 and 2006 as being labeled the party of “guns,” “God” and “gays” instead of focused on jobs and schools.

“Pollster Floyd Ciruli said Hickenlooper is wisely emphasizing that he called the special session to address several issues – including funding for water projects and cracking down on stoned driving – and not just civil unions.  Republicans, meanwhile, run the risk of looking like bullies on social issues.
‘The biggest vulnerability for Republicans is to look extreme,’ Ciruli said.
By November, the issue may pack less punch for both parties. Ciruli pointed to the national debate earlier this year around health insurance coverage for birth control, a controversy that has subsided for the moment.
‘These issues have a tendency to flare up and disappear pretty quickly,’ Ciruli said.” (Denver Post, 5-14-12)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Republican Party Still Purging Its Best Establishment Candidates

Republican Primary Fights in Arizona and Utah

With the spectacular defeat of Senator Lugar in the Indiana primary, it’s clear the Republican Party purge of establishment candidates continues.  The impact in 2008 was to remove their strongest vote-getters and lose three winnable seats:  Colorado, Maryland and Nevada.

In this cycle, Senator Hatch in Utah is facing some of the anti-establishment forces brought down senior Senator Bob Bennett two years ago in the party’s state convention.  In Arizona, a self-funded businessman is damaging the party establishment’s favorite, Congressman Jeff Flake.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

November Contests Throughout the West: Arizona, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington

Both parties are targeting a host of western senate and governor races in the November election.  Republicans need four seats to take the Senate.  They believe there are at least two pick ups in the West – battlegrounds are Montana, New Mexico and Washington. Democrats are fighting to pick up seats in Arizona and Nevada.


Montana has highly contested senate and governor elections. Incumbent first-term Senator Jon Tester is in a tough re-election fight.  Republican opponent is Montana’s only Congressman six-term Denny Rehberg.

Tester first won during the 2006, the Democratic national congressional election high point, and has hewed to the moderate approach essential for Democrats in Montana.  The latest PPP poll of April 29 shows Tester 48 percent and Rehberg 43 percent.

The governorship is open and appears a close fight between Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock and Republican primary frontrunner former U.S. Representative Rick Hill.


Polling indicates seven-term U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Berkley of Las Vegas is in a tight race against Republican U.S. Senator Dean Heller, who was appointed to the seat – Senator John Ensign resigned in May 2011.  An interesting side issue is that Berkley is Jewish from the state’s Democratic heartland.  Heller is a Mormon from the state capitol, Carson City.  (PPP poll of April 1:  Heller 46%, Berkley 43%)

Nevada will be a targeted state in the presidential race.

New Mexico

The open senate seat promises to be one of the most competitive in the country.  The June 5 primary will settle the Democratic contest.  Democratic frontrunner Martin Heinrich is likely to win and is currently ahead of his Republican opponent.  Heather Wilson is the Republican candidate and the top fundraiser in both parties.  There will be millions of out-of-state money spent winning this seat.  (PPP poll of April 22:  Heinrich 48%, Wilson 43%)

Obama will target New Mexico as a critical state.  The Republican’s greatest asset is popular first-term Governor Susana Martinez.


Representative Jay Inslee leads Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna in the latest poll, but the race should be close in spite of a likely Obama presidential win (Inslee 38% to McKenna 34%).

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Three-Million-Dollar Congressional Race

At least two Colorado congressional races will spend more than $3 million dollars in total.  In fact, two endangered incumbent Republicans had better plan to spend $3 million each to survive the Democratic onslaught.  Scott Tipton will likely be in a $3 million plus race against Democrat Sal Pace.  The metro area’s top race will be Mike Coffman against Democrat challenger Joe Miklosi.  If Republican Joe Coors keeps self-funding, the 7th Congressional District race may also become high spending as incumbent Democrat Ed Perlmutter raised $2.4 million in his 2010 competitive race against Ryan Frazier.

It is a misnomer in Colorado politics that Republicans have more campaign money.  In fact, Democrats report more congressional funding and do not run behind in non-reported special interest funding.

In 2010, as the chart below shows, Democrat John Salazar (3rd CD) and Betsy Markey (4th CD) were major spenders, who exceeded their Republican opponents.  Both lost in the 2010 Republican tide.

While Jared Polis doesn’t appear to have a race this year, there is no limit to what he would spend to hold his seat.

Democratic challengers Pace and Miklosi are already reporting large independent media buys from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

See blogs:

Ciruli on NPR

Just hours before President Obama announced his changed position on gay marriage, I was on NPR’s the Talk of the Nation with Neal Conan and Ken Rudin, the political junkie on what gay marriage as an issue could mean to the presidential race in swing state Colorado.

Friday, May 11, 2012

President Stops Evolving

Timing is everything in politics.  Just as NPR’s Neal Conan and Ken Rudin ended their discussion of the implications of gay marriage on the presidential election, President Obama ended his philosophical evolving and political calculating on the issue of gay marriage and announced he was a supporter.  Earlier is probably better for his campaign, even though the original plan was to get closer to the August national convention.

For the Democratic Party, it was not a radical move.  In the last decade, gay marriage, as the last and most controversial item on the gay rights agenda, has become a near litmus test issue for Democrats from major blue states or with national aspirations. 

Civil unions had been a way station for most centrist Democratic leaders, including the President.  But with public opinion shifting to greater acceptance of gay rights, including an even divide on gay marriage, the party was about to have a needless platform demonstration for gay marriage at its national convention in August.  It will now be a love fest.

Obama’s campaign and national Democrats hesitated for a long time on the issue because of its downside risk.  Although polls show half the country supports it, large concentrations of support are in big blue states.

In the twelve states identified by Gallup as toss-ups (9 of which are in the New York Times list), eight have passed constitutional bans on gay marriage, including North Carolina, site of the Democratic Convention and a state Obama won by less than one percentage point in 2008.

Joining presidential battleground states are non-toss-up states with close U.S. Senate races where vulnerable Democratic incumbents or challengers may not be benefited by the President’s high-profile advocacy, such as Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Missouri and Virginia.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Romney in Weld County

Mitt Romney launches his Colorado presidential campaign in Fort Lupton.  He was last here three months ago on February 7 when he lost the Republican caucus to Rick Santorum.  Weld County was a Santorum stronghold and is a voter-rich area for Republicans in the General Election.  Romney is starting by firming up his base vote.

His first stop was at a gas and oil company.  Weld County has become the Saudi Arabia of Colorado with a sea of oil and gas drilling, all the way to the Wyoming border.

Romney is focusing on the economic issue and gas prices.  He hopes to contrast his pro oil and gas agenda with what he sees as a vulnerability for President Obama, who vetoed the Keystone Pipeline, was slow to re-start offshore gas and oil exploration after the Gulf spill, and in general, has favored renewables over hydrocarbons.

Obama is very sensitive to the gas price issue and has tried to counter with advertising, claiming Romney is too close to gas and oil special interests.

The latest USA Today/Gallup swing-states poll claims the race is a dead heat; Romney 45 percent to Obama 47 percent.  It reflects a closing of the race since the March poll when Romney was in the midst of the attacks from Republican rivals for the nomination.

Colorado is included in the twelve-state survey:  Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The poll also shows Obama voters appear more committed and more enthusiastic as of early May, but with an anxious electorate, expect change.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Miklosi vs. Coffman: The Closest Seat in the Country

Colorado’s newly designed Sixth Congressional District is in nearly perfect mathematical balance and may become one of the country’s most competitive districts.

In the nation’s closest 2010 senate battle, the new sixth district gave statewide winner Michael Bennet 47.4 percent and Republican Ken Buck 47.35 percent (statewide:  Bennet 48%, Buck 46%).

President Obama won the district with 53 percent (statewide 54%) and Senator Mark Udall carved out 52 percent (statewide 53%).

If Joe Miklosi can match Congressman Mike Coffman’s financial resources, and he is helped by an aggressive Obama ground game in Arapahoe County, this should become a very close match.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mitt Romney’s Hispanic Outreach Strategy in Colorado

It is likely President Obama will win a majority of the Hispanic vote in Colorado, in fact, even a super majority.  But, as CBS News reported on May 8, Colorado is too important a battleground state for Mitt Romney to ignore any constituency, especially one that could help decide Colorado.

If Romney can shift Obama’s winning percentage among Hispanics from 70 percent to 60 percent, they would contribute 25,000 to 30,000 to what may be a 40,000 Colorado election margin (see Colorado Hispanic Voter Facts below).

Although late compared to the Obama campaign, Romney has thrown himself into showing interest in the large metro Hispanic community.  A booth has been placed at the Cinco de Mayo celebration and an outreach effort is now being organized.

Romney hopes that Hispanic concerns about the economy and jobs will allow him to make inroads among voters who are disappointed in the results of the administration’s first term.

See blogs:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Georgetown Law is on a Roll

With the onslaught of the great recession and the ascendance of the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, Washington and its politics have massively expanded.

This has been good news for the regional employment, real estate and Georgetown Law School.  Although Washington’s main business of government never contracts, the growth since 2008 has few comparable eras, possibly Roosevelt’s New Deal and WWII and Johnson’s Great Society and Vietnam.

But, Bush’s War on Terror, now augmented by Obama’s Afghan surge, the 2009 stimulus, health care legislation and financial industry regulations, makes Washington the premiere education and career choice for those who want to work in government, affect public policy or plan a career in politics.

Georgetown Law not only trains many of the future attorneys who will work in the elite law firms and bill $800 to $1,000, but it will produce even more of the attorneys and policy directors who will staff and manage the White House (including the current Chief of Staff and Counsel to the President) committees on the Hill, the special and public interest groups, and think tanks that service and resist the new super state.

Location, location, location is Georgetown Law’s particular strength.  It combines one of the nation’s top law schools with a view of the U.S. Capitol and a short walk to the Supreme Court.

The health care debate highlighted the advantage Georgetown Law has from its proximity to and engagement in the legislation and the litigation dominating the nation’s policy debates.  The school provided both a forum and much of the intellectual firepower for both sides of the case.

Justice Antonin Scalia quoted in his questioning Professor Randy Barnett’s “can they make you eat broccoli” metaphor and, of course, professor and former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement argued the plaintiff’s case (26 state attorney generals, including Colorado’s John Suthers).

And the administration’s case was well-represented by Georgetown Law graduates serving on the Hill and professors who helped design the legislation.  The biggest winners were students who were able to hear numerous moot courts and panel presentations and interact with the professors.

It’s commendatory to see an institution that benefits from the growth of the super state maintain the level of intellectual diversity that can effectively argue the pros and cons of the trend – an attribute missing from some other top law schools.

See blogs:
Obama vs. Supreme Court - Who Won?
Federalism Lives

Friday, May 4, 2012

Minority Community Ranks Jobs and Economy First, Education Second; Hispanics Put Illegal Immigration in Third

The minority community in the Denver metro area is more concerned about jobs and the economy than the Anglo community.  Sixty-three percent of Hispanics and 76 percent of Back residents of the area rate the economy and jobs the “most important problem facing the country.”  Fifty-eight percent of Anglo voters say it is the top issue.

After the economy, education is the minority community’s top concern.  Education, of course, is considered the best tool to improve one’s position in the economy.

The minority community does register special concern about illegal immigration and discrimination.  Illegal immigration is the third most important issue for Hispanic residents and discrimination is tied for second among African-American residents.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Federalism Lives

The Obama administration’s challenge to Arizona’s illegal immigration legislation mostly played defense before the Supreme Court at the April 25 oral arguments.  This is the second high court case that forced the administration to defend its assertion of national authority against states aggressively arguing the limits of federal turf.

The same two protagonists in the health care reform oral arguments squared off again in the immigration case with much the same result.  Solicitor General Donald Verrilli faced hostile questioning from even liberal justices, such as Sonia Sotomayor.  Arizona’s case was made by Paul Clement, the G.W. Bush Solicitor General and Georgetown Law professor, who argued the states’ position on the health care high court hearing.

The arguments appeared to indicate the Court felt one of the most important parts the legislation concerning police doing immigration status checks might be a constitutional assertion of state authority based on the wording of the federal immigration laws.

The administration’s position is not only poorly received by the Court, but strongly opposed by the public.  In a couple of recent national polls, two-thirds of Americans support the Arizona position and want the Court to uphold it.

In the same Quinnipiac poll, 68 percent approved Arizona’s immigration law “that requires police to verify the legal status of someone they have already stopped and/or arrested if they suspect that person is in country illegally.”

·         Does the flow of oral arguments in the Supreme Court mean much for the final outcome?

·         Will these two cases create new limits on federal power?

·         Will a loss hurt President Obama’s re-election or is immigration a wedge issue that works well with Hispanic voters, but most Anglos ignore?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Money in Congressional Races – Only One Factor

Campaign contribution figures are not dispositive of identifying competitive races, but along with factors, such as partisanship, and the quality of the candidates, they highlight where the main interest groups are lining up.  The first quarter congressional finance reports reinforce the view that the southern and western Colorado 3rd CD is the state’s top race, with Sal Pace (D) vs. Scott Tipton (R) in third place for money raised, $600,000, and cash on hand, $1.3 million.  What makes it the top state race is the closeness of the fundraising.  Incumbent Tipton only has a 60 percent to 40 percent advantage.

Other races with considerable cash on hand are Shaffer (D) vs. Gardner (R) in the 4th CD and Miklosi (D) vs. Coffman (R) in the 6th CD.  But, the Democratic challengers are substantially behind the Republican incumbents (20% to 80%), indicating the races are not seen as competitive as of the end of March.  However, Miklosi has just been endorsed by the DCCC as a targeted race.  It could bring $2 million or more in contributions.

The surprise race that has potential to be a spirited fight is Perlmutter (D) vs. Coors (R) in the 7th CD.  Joe Coors’ personal contribution of $218,000 puts the race at the million dollar level of cash on hand.  The incumbent to challenger financing ratio is 75 percent to 25 percent.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

RTD Pulls Plug

RTD finally drops the illusion that the over-the-top proposal designed in 2004 was going to be funded in the 2012 economy.  The plan, which was proposed and promoted as a political solution with only a minimal connection to fiscal reality, nearly doubled in cost from $4.7 billion to $7.8 billion.

Now RTD, with hopefully a new sense of realism and no longer beholden to the planners who conceived the 2004 mirage, can come up with a bus-train solution that fits today’s public finance capacity and a non-political cost benefit analyses. 

And, wouldn’t it be a real success story for metro mobility if area roads and bridges got into the comprehensive financial plan instead of the narrow focus on just rail?

NBC Education Nation Spends Ten Days in Denver

9News and NBC News join together to highlight education challenges and successes in the Denver metro area and Colorado for ten days in April.

Ciruli Associates polled for NBC News Education Nation and found people rate education a very important issue, the U.S. only average in math and reading compared to developed world, and college education essential (35%) or very important (39%) to a good job.